Stass Paraskos: Lovers and romances

  • 22 Jul – 9 Oct 2016
  • Free, no booking required

Bringing together a collection of paintings by Cypriot artist Stass Paraskos, this exhibition hinged around Lovers and romances, a 1966 exhibition of the same title at Leeds Institute that was the subject of an obscenity trial following a complaint by a member of the public and a police raid on the show.

Painted in the revolutionary era of ‘flower power’ and ‘free love’, Paraskos’s trial sparked national and international debate with leading art world figures such as Herbert Read and Norbet Lynton speaking in his defense. Paraskos was the last artist in England to be prosecuted under the Vagrancy Act of 1838 that had earlier been used against DH Lawrence. Several of the works from the trial, deemed ‘lewd and obscene’, went on to be exhibited in the group show ‘Fantasy and figuration’ at the ICA in 1967, and were later acquired by the Tate in 2006.

50 years on, this exhibition revisited these works and the debates they sparked, presenting a selection of paintings produced from the period alongside archival material documenting the trial. Freedom of expression and censorship in the arts and beyond remains a lively debate today.

Having trained and then taught at Leeds College of Art before the notoriety of the trial, Paraskos continued to develop his career with a dual focus on being an educator in tandem with being a practitioner. Inspired by his experience at the avant-garde ‘Barry Summer School’ in the sixties, Paraskos went on to establish his own DIY Art School, Cyprus Art College in 1969.

This exhibition was supported by Holiday Inn Express Leeds Royal Armouries and Leeds Art Fund.